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1.4 million Under five children in Sierra Leone to be vaccinated against polio

1.4 million Under five children in Sierra Leone to be vaccinated against polio

FREETOWN, 2 October 2015 – As the fight to end the Ebola outbreak goes on, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) continues working with UNICEF, WHO and other development partners, to restore trust in the health system and maintain the delivery of basic health services.

To sustain long-term efforts made to tackle childhood diseases, a four-day (2 – 5 October) nationwide mass polio vaccination campaign gets underway today and is expected to reach about 1.4 million under five children across the country.

“Because of the Ebola outbreak, we developed unique safety protocols and trained our health workers for such health campaigns, in line with the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) practice to protect them as well as the children,” said Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah, Minister of Health and Sanitation. “I appeal to parents to get their children vaccinated to eradicate polio and help reduce infant mortality in Sierra Leone.”

During the campaign some 3,568 (two-person) vaccination teams will move house-to-house vaccinating children. This will help avoid overcrowding at health centres given the current Ebola situation. Surveillance officers working in the Ebola response will also identify quarantined households and ensure that the required interventions are provided after the quarantine period.

“Vaccines are one of the best ways to protect children from certain childhood diseases,” said Geoff Wiffin, UNICEF Sierra Leone Representative. “Making them accessible to every child is key to eradicating such diseases and drastically reducing child deaths in Sierra Leone.”

In addition to the polio vaccinations, children less than 23 months old that have defaulted in one or more of the routine vaccinations will also be identified and vaccinated on site.

UNICEF is providing 1.5 million doses of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV), as well as financial and technical support to social mobilization and other communication related activities, technical support for trainings, and supervision and monitoring.

Similar campaigns will be taking place simultaneously across the region with funding from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

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